The effect of improved management on the reproduction and production rates of cattle in communal areas has not been quantified and compared to commercial farming. The objective of this study was to determine the reproduction and production rates of communal cattle in the sourveld areas when managed with commercial practices. Cattle from the communal sourveld farming areas of the Wartburg community were randomly divided into one of two treatment groups. One group (Communal treatment) remained in the community to be managed under communal farming practices. The other group was transferred to Döhne A.D.I. where sound commercial beef farming practices were followed (Commercial treatment). Reproduction and production parameters were recorded for the treatments from 2003 until 2010. The average calving percentage of the Commercial treatment cows and their progeny (82.6%) was significantly higher than that of the Communal treatment (35.7%). Calves reared in the communal treatment weighed only 60.9% of the live weight of calves reared in the commercial treatment. Pre-wean growth rate in the Commercial treatment was 0.721 kg/day with average cow efficiency rates of 48% compared to 0.343 kg/day and 29.5% respectively for the communal treatment. The reproduction and production data of communal cows and their progeny that were managed under commercial conditions compared favourably to that of commercial beef breeds kept under similar conditions at Döhne A.D.I. It was concluded that cattle production in communal areas can be significantly improved by implementation of commercial management practices.
"Experientia docet" - Experience is the best teacher